In the season finale against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Kansas City Chiefs, led by Kicker Harrison Butker and Chris Jones Million Dollar Sack, close the regular season with a 13-12 come-from-behind win.
It wasn’t always pretty, but there was enough suspense to keep Chiefs fans interested until the final seconds. Harrison Butker delivered a 41-yard game-winning field goal in the final two minutes, and for the second consecutive game, he lifted the team’s struggling offense.
Resting most of their starters, including Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, Blaine Gabbert ran the offense. Though he didn’t lead any touchdown drives, he was clutch, not with his arm but his legs, in the final offensive series, setting up Butker’s game-winning kick.
The Chiefs had hoped to showcase both Mecole Hardman and Justyn Ross. Hardman led the Chiefs in receiving yards with 77 on six catches. In the plays, he had success; he looked like his old self.
On the flip side, Justyn Ross left the game with a hamstring injury. It was unknown how severe the strain knocked him out of the game, but at least he got some solid reps.
However, starting Left Tackle Wanya Morris was taken into the locker room in the second quarter. After evaluation, he was placed in the Concussion Protocol. That means he must be cleared to play in the wild-card round. Donovan Smith is still dealing with a neck strain, and his status for the playoffs is unknown.
Defensive Lineman Chris Jones is one player who will be on the field for the Chiefs in the postseason. Needing a half sack to reach ten on the season and activate a $1.25 Million bonus, he stumbled atop Chargers Quarterback Easton Stick in the third quarter, cashing in on his big bonus. He ended the game with one sack but had four quarterback pressures.
I wasn’t comfortable with Jones playing into the second half, but Reid used him on passing downs. Jones was a menace against the Chargers, so let’s hope that type of play continues next weekend.
Again, the offense needed help finding a rhythm. They enjoyed an early game lead when Chiefs Safety Mike Edwards picked up a Stick fumble and returned it 97 yards for the Chief’s first defensive touchdown since their game against the Dolphins in Germany.
The defense was solid all game. They sometimes bent in the middle of the field but held the Chargers to four field goals. Cam Jones had a monster day with 12 tackles (11 solo), and so did Chamarri Conner, who had eight solo tackles.
If there was a disappointment in the game, Gabbert struggled to make plays downfield. Several times, he had open receivers but didn’t deliver the pass. As mentioned, he used his legs in the final drive, but like Mahomes has been much of the season, he was under siege most of the game.
Either way, the Chiefs end their regular season with an 11-6 record, including six wins on the road. Had they played better at home this year, they could have locked down the second seed in the AFC.
As it sits now, depending on the outcome of the Sunday Night game between the Dolphins and Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs Wild Card game opponent will either be Miami or Pittsburgh.
Regardless of what Reid and the players take out of this game, Kansas City ends the up-and-down season winning their final two games.
They’ll need to play a lot better in the playoffs, and it won’t be easy to defeat their next opponent, but with Mahomes, it’s risky to bet against him.